Phillip Lindsay is quick to share a smile with just about anybody, but he's all business on the football field.
The Colorado redshirt freshman running back fumbled in the red zone during the Buffs' first light scrimmage of spring drills Friday morning. He plans a self-imposed punishment over the weekend.
Lindsay voluntarily went to see his positions coaches after practice to retrieve a football filled with water that makes it heavier. He said he planned to carry the ball all day Friday and throughout the weekend as punishment for fumbling.
"I don't have no problem with it," Lindsay said. "I'll sleep with it too. I'll do what I have to do. You always got to tune up and take care of the flaws that you have and make them better."
Lindsay redshirted last season after suffering a torn ACL in his knee in his senior year of high school in 2012. He attracted attention from coaches throughout the season because he constantly made plays on the scout team offense against the CU starting defense.
He rushed eight times in the 71-play scrimmage for just 12 yards, but he also scored a touchdown on a 4-yard run. The scrimmage was situational in some respects with the offense starting each drive on the 50-yard line to put stress on the defense. Coach Mike MacIntyre said it was not a banner day defensively, but one the Buffs can learn from when they watch it on film.
MacIntyre said he likes what he has seen through the first four practices of spring from Lindsay except for the fumble on Friday. He expects Lindsay to get on the field in the fall if he continue to progress. Considering CU has six experienced running backs returning, and possibly a seventh if Josh Ford is granted a sixth year by the NCAA, Lindsay already being penciled in for playing time speaks to how much coaches like what they see in him.
"Keep learning the offense and keep attacking and keep getting used to getting hit and hold on to the football," MacIntyre said when asked what Lindsay needs to work on. "His agility and his speed, his quickness and his toughness, you know he drove the pile and he ran through some tackles. So his knee is back. None of that is an issue. It's just getting used to everything."
Colorado coaches are happy to have Lindsay and anyone else who can help the running game improve. CU finished 10th in the Pac-12 Conference and 108th nationally in rushing last season, averaging 121 yards a game.
Lindsay says he feels 100 percent recovered from the knee injury this spring and is only continuing to wear a knee brace because the CU athletic training staff has asked him to. He said he is eager to compete in the fall to try to earn the starting job. The fact that so many experienced players return at his position doesn't appear to phase him.
"I'm going to find my way to get in there and play some ball," Lindsay said.
There might not be a more driven player on the CU roster.
Lindsay, a product of Denver South High School who was recruited by former CU coach Jon Embree, does everything with his family in mind. He has a picture of his mother, Diane Lindsay, along with her name posted in his locker.
Diane Lindsay has suffered with a muscle disease for years. It hasn't stopped her from raising five children, three sons and two daughters and four of the five have played Division I college sports. The fifth is a freshman in high school.
"She just got up every day and dealt with three hard-headed boys and two girls, and for a woman to do that, she shouldn't have to work like that," Lindsay said. "So I'm going to make her money."
It's not just his mother whom Lindsay thinks about when he's on the field. His younger brother, Zach Lindsay, who will be a freshman at Northern Colorado in the fall, and Marcus, the high school freshman, are constantly on his mind.
"Always in the back of my head I'm thinking, 'When I get back to my family, what are they going to think?'" Lindsay said. "I don't want to be looked as weak or having a weak mentality. I want to be looked at as strong.
"I have two younger brothers that look up to me. When you have two younger brothers that look up to you, you've got to set the tone for them if you want them to be great, and I have two younger ones who are going to be better than me I feel like."
Lindsay said he grew up in a house in which his two older sisters, who played basketball and volleyball, paved the way for the boys. He said they always worked out with his father in the yard and he and his brothers naturally joined in. It's a competitive family to say the least.
"You know how most people want to play video games?" Lindsay said. "That wasn't us. We didn't want to play the video games. We wanted to be outside in the hot sun working hard.
"We don't come from a family that has money and all that. When your mom is struggling and she's crying a lot and everything, it changes you a lot. Your mentality is mean. When I sit there and think about what she has to go through and what my pops has to go through, that's why I'm so mean. And so out there on the field, nobody is going to stop me from getting to where I have to go."